Austin’s Detective Dan Reles faces father-son issues.
Reles’s father wasn’t much of a dad. A broken-down boxer, he ended up an errand boy for the Elmira, N.Y., mob, at least before he had to wake his son and flee in the middle of a long-ago night. As this fourth in Simon’s series (Little Faith, 2006, etc.) opens, Reles is dealing with his own family issues—the troubled hero has now moved in with on-again, off-again girlfriend Rachel. But her raging alcoholism has traumatized their son, Josh, and Reles is barely holding them all together. Add in that he’s still a Yankee Jew in a Texas police department, and it’s clear that things won’t become any easier when his shady dad shows up with a Russian prostitute in a car that they may or may not have stolen after murdering its owner. As Reles considers what to do with his father—and breaks both laws and police-department code simply by taking the time to think—the situation escalates. A powerful monster of a mobster, Sam Zelig, shows up, determined to take the Russian back for his own sadistic pleasure, threatening all the Reles family members who stand in his way. In his trademark neat, almost noir prose, Simon perfectly conveys the dilemmas facing a perpetual outsider determined to do the right thing. His hero is subtly drawn, his problems plausible and his colleagues (including the equally tormented, but not overdramatic Internal Affairs cop Torbett) are smart renderings of believable types. In fact, the charismatic Zelig is the only character in this book who goes over the top. But he is such a powerful monster that this sin is forgivable. In fact, only his rather anticlimactic death, off scene in a hospital, disappoints.
A graceful thriller.